Jeter may not be ready for Opening Day

The ALCS seems like it happened so long ago, that I’d almost forgotten that Derek Jeter suffered a broken ankle in the first game of the series in all honesty, but Joe Girardi‘s comments on that brought it back into stark relief. The skipper’s message? His starting shortstop might not be ready to play on Opening Day. “He’s still basically non-weight-bearing, I believe, so, I really believe it might be a little push,” Girardi said.

Initial freak out aside, Girardi is a pretty conservative manager when it comes to his public statements, and it seems as though he’s just being as non-committal as he can without ducking the question entirely. That’s not without merit, either, as there’s pretty good reason not to be tossing numbers around yet, as how Jeter’s rehab work progresses will be the biggest factor in determining when he’s ready to return. As we saw with Andy Pettitte over the summer, putting too much effort into trying to heal quickly can easily lead to setbacks that leave you missing even more time, so putting the pressure on Jeter to be ready for Opening Day is likely counterproductive. Besides, the most important thing is probably making sure that he’s truly fully healed, and that he doesn’t begin the season by trying to play through an injury that could both limit his performance and cause him to miss more time later in the season.
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Miguel Cabrera Deserved To Win The MVP

Admittedly, when we held our very own TYA awards, my MVP vote went to Mike Trout. Why? Because by all measurable statistics, no matter how you crunch the numbers, Mike Trout had the best season in baseball. No matter what awards he loses, no matter how many critics unwittingly joust against WAR, wRC+, and ISO, nothing will change the fact that scientifically, Trout was the best player in 2012. And to steal one of my favorite quotes from Neil DeGrasse Tyson, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” Yesterday, Miguel Cabrera Continue reading Miguel Cabrera Deserved To Win The MVP

Cone crowns Jays division favorites

Apparently we’re moving from hot stove season to prematurely bullish prediction season in record time this year. Speaking to reporters at a charity event yesterday, YES broadcaster David Cone reacted to the big trade between the Marlins and Blue Jays by declaring the Blue Jays the division favorites already. “I would think they’d have to be the favorite, right now, in the American League East,” Cone said. It may seem a touch early to be crowning presumptive favorites, but then, if the 2012 Marlins taught us anything it’s that making a big splash to acquire Jose Reyes and Mark Buehrle instantly makes you the best team in your division.

Alright, I’m mostly just kidding here, but I can’t help but chuckle that this trend is still with us. It seems that every year someone makes a big, unexpected move in the offseason, and everyone immediately proceeds to the knee jerk reaction of declaring them a massively improved team who have to be favored to win something. Sometimes (2009 Yankees, 2011 Brewers) it plays out that way while other times (2010 Mariners, 2011 Red Sox, 2012 Marlins and Angels) it decidedly does not, to varying degrees.

The fact is, a relatively small number of new players generally do not 20 more wins make, and there are a lot of baseline factors that don’t get taken into account in the exuberance. In the case of the Red Sox, for example, everyone seemed to forget that the production gains they’d get from Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford would be offset by the loss of Adrian Beltre and Victor Martinez. With these Blue Jays, it seems that everyone is forgetting that they were a 90 loss team with a lot of issues, and that the players they’re acquiring formed the core of another 93 loss team in the National League. Don’t get me wrong, the Blue Jays are definitely better and have to be considered serious contenders for the playoffs, but they’ve got three 90 win teams and the Red Sox to overcome in the division, and while the trade makes their roster better, they’ve got a lot of other things that have to go right for them as well before they can start printing up ugly commemorative t-shirts. Continue reading Cone crowns Jays division favorites

Bad arguments, postseason awards, and reactionary impulses

I don’t feel like saying anything about the A.L. MVP award which will be unveiled in a couple of hours, but whatever your thoughts on that question, this article by Dave Cameron is well worth a read, especially if you subscribe to the notion that an MVP has to come from a playoff team. The premise is pretty simple: if not making the playoffs means Mike Trout can’t be the American League MVP, then how does he get on your ballot at all? If Miguel Cabrera finishes ahead of him because he got the Tigers into the playoffs, don’t you then have to rank any player that the same could be said about on all five postseason teams ahead of Trout? And yet. there’s basically no chance that even the most ardent Cabrera supporter will have Trout outside of the top five, let alone the top ten.

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The Yankees and international free agents

There was a time when the Yankees were usually seen as the favorites to land any international free agent they coveted. From Orlando Hernandez and Hideki Irabu to Jose Contreras and Hideki Matsui, the Yankees (and their checkbook) were the big players on the block, and the international free agent market was a way for them to add new talent without going through the more traditional channels of acquiring and developing new players. In recent years, however, they’ve been remarkably quiet on that front, especially given that we’ve seen some of the most intriguing talents in the history of international free agency come to the states since 2009. Last year alone, the Yankees let the Rangers and A’s have Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes, respectively, with little more than a token show of interest from The Bronx. As Brad Vietrogoski wrote at TYA the other day, those are two players that could have helped them quite a bit in retrospect.

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A Path to the Majors for this 16 Year-Old Girl With a Killer Knuckleball?

This story, which I first read on Fangraphs, fascinates me: Who would willingly throw a knuckleball in high school when scouts are looking for fastballs and curveballs? Well, for a 15-year-old native of Plant City, Florida, knuckleballs have been the key pitch to a young successful repertoire — ever since Joe Niekro taught the fluttering pitch to her. Chelsea Baker has thrown a knuckler for eight years — that is one year longer than R.A. Dickey — and has earned no little fame in the process, going so far as earning an ESPN E:60 segment in 2010. … Since her Continue reading A Path to the Majors for this 16 Year-Old Girl With a Killer Knuckleball?

The Angels are interested in Kuroda

We’ve already heard that the Dodgers and Red Sox are interested in signing Hiroki Kuroda away from the Yankees, and now Jon Heyman has added the Orange County Angels to the list of teams who want Kuroda in their rotation next year. This might actually be the most disturbing news the Yankees could have gotten on this front, as the Angels seem like a much more dangerous challenger than either of the other two teams here. Unlike the Red Sox, they’ve got a solid roster that should be seen as World Series contenders right from Opening Day, and unlike the Dodgers they’ve got a lot of room in their rotation after jettisoning Dan Haren and Ervin Santana already this winter, plus potentially losing Zack Greinke. The Yankees want to retain Kuroda on a one year contract, but he’s already turned down a $13.3 million qualifying offer that would have been a ~30% raise on his 2012 salary, and with this much interest and a thin pitching market, it’s hard to imagine that someone won’t put a two year offer on the table at some point. Continue reading The Angels are interested in Kuroda

The outfield, left and right

Perhaps the title of this piece is misleading. I want to talk about something left and something right relating to the Yankee outfield, but it has to do with batting, not fielding. First, let’s talk about the “left” side of this equation: Raul Ibanez. The Yankees have had preliminary discussions about bringing Voldemort back for another go ’round in pinstripes. As Mike pointed out in the River Ave. blurb, Ibanez hit to a 102 wRC+ this season, including a 115 mark against right handers, which is whom he’d primarily be used against. Due to Brett Gardner‘s injury, Ibanez had to Continue reading The outfield, left and right

Will the Marlins debacle lead to less public stadium money?

I’d like to think that Calcaterra is right about this, but alas, I think it’s more hopeful thinking than anything else:

Loria, both with the way the stadium deal went down in Miami, and now with this cynical, soul-killing trade, has given anti-ballpark advocates a ton of ammunition. He has likewise rendered the old “we need a ballpark to be competitive, just wait until we have one!” pitch of team owners even more obviously hollow than it ever was. Which is great if, like me, you oppose public stadium projects, but really has to tick off those who want one of their own.

I’m opposed to any and all uses of public money to build stadiums for professional baseball teams unless a) they’re enacted by a popular referendum (and even then, I don’t actively support it, I just don’t so much care if the taxpayers of a locality decide that they really want to spend their money on a stadium) and b) they’re operated as profit generating enterprises for the local government(s) that put up the money, but I have no expectation that what happened in Miami will make any difference anywhere else. So far as broad public opinion goes, I suspect that it will merely harden the opinions of those already opposed, while doing little to change anyone else’s thoughts, and where specific cases are concerned, you’ll mostly see them get treated as their own unique examples. The Rays and A’s, in particular, probably have a lot more goodwill built up than the Marlins did, thanks to a history of winning with low payrolls. Heck, in each of the last two seasons, respectively, they’ve supposedly suffered crippling losses due to cost cutting, and in the immediately following season they made the playoffs with 90+ wins. That’s a far cry from the track record of Loria’s Marlins. Continue reading Will the Marlins debacle lead to less public stadium money?